1. The first thing to do – is kill the reader.
2. The author should not write exclusively for the author.
3. Only when the reader is dead to the author can the author begin to think about freedom.
4. Most authors neither want nor know what freedom is. And the degree to which they care about freedom is rendered moot by the reader’s construction of subjectivity and subjectivities’ collective rendering of “objectivity.”
5. According to Roland Barthes, “the birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author.” Irrelevant.
6. The reader is an it with no utilitarian value. So is the author. It places the lotion in the basket and never makes a scene.
7. The reader has usurped the role of protagonist, who dictates the flows, structure and economy of content and narration. It should be killed backstage before the janitor even opens the theater doors to the public.
8. The amateur infects everything, but killing the amateur will not ensure the death of the reader. Kill an amateur and a weaker, dumber amateur will rise from the corpse.
9. Harlan Ellison enjoyed playing with the reader, who sometimes mistook titself as the dog, but he assured it that he was the dog, whereas the reader was the tail. “You don’t wag me,” said Ellison. “I wag you.” The tail should be plucked from the dog like a weed from dirt, roots and all, so that even the residual nub can’t be twitched.
10. An empty auditorium is better than a potted plant. An ideal world is an alternate world that simultaneously returns to history, plumbs futurity, and unzips all of the unfound anuses.
11. The reader is simple and bound by identity; it brings a readymade expectation everywhere it goes. Expectations are the products of culture, which robs all adults of immaturity, bastardizing, poisoning and obfuscating perception. Without immaturity there would be no art at all. Nullum cacas.
12. The romance of the biography of the author is dead. There is no interest in this world for authors who machine-gun frenzies of sharks at sea, drown themselves in streams, or chase the rain with a hammer. A pathological product of media culture, the reader has sanctioned the inoculation of Personality. The only authors that count are nice people who attend Comic-Con and greet every fan with a smile and a hug.
13. MFA programs would have ignorant armies of hopeful authors believe that they can write good fiction or essays or poems with the endgame of getting published, landing a university teaching position, and generating a livable income. This is an illusion, of course, a marketing ploy devised to milk the udders of dusty attic women and hairy basement men, but many academics and recipients of the MFA degree – the equivalent of a MBA degree: useless, ridiculous, embarrassing – who man the various helms of MFA programs actually believe they can teach students to write good fiction or essays or poems. Collectively they represent the worst kind of reader.
14. Poetry belongs to history, rappers, pop singers and children. Any serious attempt at writing poetry is, whatever the content, an articulation of one’s insecurities, an admission of one’s weakness and banal derangement.
15. The only kind of stageplays that should be written today are works of absurdism. Film culture has rendered stage culture superfluous and incomprehensible. Serious playwrights are not as bad as serious poets, but they both smell like Ohio.
16. Pop idiocy made high modernism eat itself. It was not the pinnacle of modernity, but the antigens of the Castle infected and cannibalized high modernism long before it had a chance to mature into raw, wizened immaturity via near-future deluges of meaning, media pathology and technologized desire.
17. The bomb and technology – or the technology of the bomb, or the bomb of technology – are largely responsible for the generation and contemporary state of pop idiocy, which shows no sign of slowing down, which grows in power with every gesture towards the real.
18. I am not a skeptic. I am a realist. Hence my primal concern is the subversion of reality. The innovation of alterity is no excuse.
19. The twenty-first century epitome of high art is the long take. Famous classical instances of this camerawork occur in Hitchcock’s Rope and Welles’ Touch of Evil. Today, filmmakers – the only artists left – employ the long take not to demonstrate their artistry but their capacity to take risks within the capitalist order, potentially disrupting the time constraints that producers have put upon them if an actor, lighting technician, etc. makes a mistake and they have to keep reshooting the take from beginning to end, not to mention the hours and hours of rehearsal required to successfully pull it off.
20. In the twentieth century, science fiction had the potential to become a genre of true invention, conceptually and textually, but the impenetrable conservatism of its editors, practitioners and consumers flatlined it. Now science fiction is a ghost at best; imaginative extrapolations into the future are all symptoms of the same lukewarm joke.
21. Your tongue is not a chameleon’s tail, a spider’s leg, a starfish’s arm or a flatworm’s hacked-off cunt. Nor is it a delicacy. Always cook your tongue before you cut it off and eat it, ensuring that it will come apart in your beak. This is not a dream.
22. Monsters are never created; they are always born. Likewise the blind Abyss. But simple inversion is worse than idle assertion. What comes next? And then? And then?
23. Future histories will be extracted like stem cells from the brain tissue of comic-book diegeses, which are assimilating every conceivable stretch of the imagination.
24. The reader is not necessarily the viewer, but the viewer is always the reader. Kill them both; kill them all.
25. Foucault: “The author is therefore the ideological figure by which one marks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning.” Wrong. The rubric used to accomplish this deduction no longer exists. Even in modern memory, there is no credence, no access, no capacity for expression or comprehension. The reader prohibits (i.e., manufactures) this lack.
26. The author is not afraid to take risks. The author doesn’t know how to take risks, let alone want to take them. The reader, in turn, doesn’t know what a risk is.
27. Like reality, history is an illusion from which there is no escape. Even the reader is bound by history. A lust for imprisonment, for maps, for acculturation epitomizes the human condition.
28. The reader always talks about how much it reads while the author always underscores how much it writes, citing timespans and word counts . . . In an ideal world, my hatred would define the technologies of everybody’s desire.
29. Character development is overrated. Plot development is overrated. Throw a dart at a library, a bookstore, a pub, a cemetery, a meteor crater and you’ll hit a well-developed character, a well-developed plot. Sturdy, relatable construction belongs to Mesopotamia. We need a new breed of hunter and gatherer to conjure the dawn.
30. Who goes to Hell? Sinners instilled with genuine evil who do nothing to unlock, express and cultivate it. Good people grow on trees.
31. The only thing to apologize for doing is the right thing.
32. There is no difference between a donkey and a ninja. Additionally, the fruit is the sweet dream of the vegetable.
33. Part of the reader’s problem is that it has been taught how to read improperly. Most of the reader’s problem, however, is the reader itself.
34. The first part of On Writing is a flash memoir of Stephen King’s childhood and early writing career during which he struggled with substance abuse. Then he explains how to write. “The reader should be your main concern,” he says. “Without Constant Reader, you are just a voice quacking into the void” (124). In fact, the duck must rise before the sun and eat the hunter in his sleep.
35. Dutch urban planner Hans Monderman hypothesized that removing traffic signs and lights would lead to less collisions and loss of life. Everywhere the hypothesis has been implemented, it has worked. Ambiguity exacerbates acuity.
36. Acuity is the latent enemy of the reader.
37. Killing the Oxford comma is a good start towards killing the reader, but the comma’s gatekeepers will do anything to perpetuate the illusion of its dominance, spinning fables to guarantee that anybody who abdicates or even omits it goes down like a tubercular god.
38. The reader is immortal and will never die. Somehow trying to kill it must be enough.
39. The science fiction genre is as frightened as an old housewife shrieking at a dead mouse from the kitchen countertop. Every other genre is the reader’s junkyard dog, traumatized by years of abuse.
40. If it can’t be categorized, it doesn’t exist.
41. “The writer must get into touch with his reader by putting before him something which he recognizes, which therefore stimulates his imagination, and makes him willing to cooperate in the far more difficult business of intimacy. And it is of the highest importance that this common meeting-place should be reached easily, almost instinctively, in the dark, with one’s eyes shut,” says Virginia Woolf, suffering from more than one infirmity.
42. Never fuck in the dark. And if you fuck the sun, you must fuck the moon, too.
43. I am not a man. I am an electromagnetic earthfucker.
44. Air traffic controllers are the masters of the universe. At any given moment, thousands and thousands of jetliners tear across the sky in every direction, their fumes masking the earth in an atmospheric exoskeleton. And yet collisions are rarer than good ideas.
45. The art of interpretation only existed as an artform for a moment. Before that moment, it was a normative perceptual gesture; afterwards it became a scourge of disdain, rancor, panic or, in most instances, apathy.
46. Henry Miller, like Herman Melville, leaps up and licks the sky when he writes: “Behind the word is chaos. Each word a stripe, a bar, but there are not and never will be enough bars to make the mesh.”
47. Real chaos has barely been fingered . . .
48. There is nothing to make New, and the Next has elapsed, whereas the Now is a myth.
49. The only thing that can elude gravity – is the Never.
D. HARLAN WILSON
*Published in ALENIST 5